How can you support a grieving friend?

When someone you care for loses a loved one, it can be difficult to know how to support them properly. There is no singular, correct way to be there for a bereaved person. Instead, there are many ways to show your support and let someone know you’re thinking of them while they’re grieving: spending time with them, helping them with daily tasks, and giving a meaningful gift are all powerful options. The important thing is to let them know that you're there for them and not to take it personally if they prefer privacy.

At EFYTAL, we offer a variety of jewelry pieces on meaningful message cards that make special commemorative sympathy gifts. If you are able to, we suggest pairing a gift (such as jewelry) with supportive actions to provide comfort to your grieving loved one. 

Here are a few ways you can support the bereaved, emotionally and practically: 

  • Be a good listener - listen to what they want to say, without any judgment.

  • Assist with practical tasks - it can be incredibly helpful to grocery shop, drop off meals, babysit, etc. for the bereaved. If you see an area of their life where they could use assistance, ask specifically if you could help them in that area, e.g. “I’d like to bring you some food, is there a day this week that would work for you?”

  • Give them a customized care package - including items like calming candles and teas, memorial jewelry, chocolates, soup mixes, and journaling notebooks can provide some comfort. 

  • Take cues from them - after you’ve offered initial condolences, let them know that you would like to stay in touch. You can offer a communication plan (“I’m going to call you every Sunday night to check in, does that work for you?”) and allow them to adjust it to suit their needs. If they ask for space, respect that too. 

  • Respect their method of grieving - everyone grieves differently. You don’t have to understand their way of grieving, but it helps if you respect it. 
  • Gift them something commemorative - flowers are a nice gesture, but a personalized gift that will last for years to come can be more meaningful and comforting. A heartfelt, handwritten note is a thoughtful way to show your support and concern, but if you feel inclined to send a physical gift to let them know that you’re there for them, you could send an engraved memory box, or a piece of jewelry on a sympathy message card.

  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice - regardless of whether or not you’ve experienced loss, it's hard to understand how someone else is feeling. Your presence might be as comforting as any word of wisdom.

  • Encourage them to reminisce - if they want to talk about the deceased, encourage them to do so by asking them questions like “what is your favorite memory with them?” or “what was the best thing about them?”. If you had a personal relationship with the deceased, you can also contribute by sharing some memories of your own, but make sure to allow the bereaved person to lead the conversations. 

  • Provide ongoing support - While a lasting gift like jewelry is a great starting point, remember to support the bereaved long term– grief can be a lifelong journey. You can think of this gift as a commemoration of the recipient’s special relationship with the one they’ve lost, as well as a promise of your continued support in the future. 

  • Being there for someone who is grieving is not easy, and can be uncomfortable, but it is incredibly important.